JOHNSON v. VIRGINIA
454 U.S. 920

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U.S. Supreme Court

JOHNSON v. VIRGINIA , 454 U.S. 920 (1981)

454 U.S. 920

Major Henry JOHNSON, Jr. v. VIRGINIA
No. 80-6519 Supreme Court of the United States October 13, 1981

On petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of Virginia.

The petition for writ of certiorari is denied.

Justice MARSHALL, dissenting.

Petitioner, who was convicted of murder in a Virginia trial court, argues that his confession should not have been admitted into evidence. The confession was made during a police interrogation, at the outset of which petitioner waived his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). Earlier that same day, however, petitioner had stated that he wished to confer with an attorney. The interrogation took place before he had an opportunity to do so. The Virginia Supreme Court ruled that there had been a valid waiver, and thus that the confession was admissible. In my view, the decision to admit the confession was contrary to the spirit-if not the letter-of our recent decision in Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477 (1981), which was handed down after the State Supreme Court's ruling in this case. I would grant the petition for a writ of certiorari, vacate the judgment of the State Supreme Court, and remand the case for reconsideration in light of Edwards.

In Edwards v. Arizona, the petitioner was arrested on charges of robbery, burglary, and murder. After he was informed of his Miranda rights, he was questioned by police. Edwards denied involvement in the crime and presented an alibi defense. He then told police that he wanted to "make a deal." He stated, however, that he wanted to consult with an attorney first. Although questioning then ceased, police detectives visited Edwards the next day and told him that they wished to ask him some questions. Petitioner replied that he did not want to talk to anyone. After being told that he "had to" talk to the detectives, he acquiesced. The officers read Edwards his Miranda rights and began a new interrogation session. Shortly after the session began, petitioner implicated himself in the crime.

Page 454 U.S. 920 , 921

We reversed the Arizona Supreme Court's ruling that this confession was admissible, holding:

    "[W]hen an accused has invoked his right to have counsel present during custodial interrogation, a valid waiver of that right cannot be established by showing only that he responded to further police- initiated custodial interrogation even if he has been advised of his rights. [Moreover,] an accused, . . . having expressed his desire to deal with the police only through counsel, is not subject to further interrogation by the authorities until counsel has been made available to him, unless the accused himself initiates further communication, exchanges, or conversations with the police." Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S., at 484-485-1885.

We recognized that a person in custody who had expressed a desire to have a lawyer might change his mind and even welcome an opportunity to talk. Id., at 485-486. Where the accused did not himself renew discussions with the police, however, we decided that it was unsafe to assume that he had voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently waived his right to counsel.

The facts of this case are remarkably similar to those of Edwards v. Arizona. On December 12, 1977, petitioner was arrested by Virginia authorities and charged with robbery, premeditated murder in the commission of armed robbery, and use of a firearm in the commission of murder. At his arraignment the next day, petitioner asked the court to appoint counsel. An attorney was appointed. That afternoon, however, before petitioner had an opportunity to confer with his lawyer, a local police detective visited him in jail. This detective later testified that he neither knew nor cared whether petitioner had requested an attorney. The detective informed petitioner of his Miranda rights and obtained peti- [454 U.S. 920 , 922]


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